Two days after a ten-year-old boy succumbed to his injuries, sustained in a sexual assault by three boys in north-east Delhi’s Seelampur, his family members said they are living in fear of being attacked by the accused.
The victim’s sister told The Hindu that she hasn’t stepped out of their house to attend tuition classes since the incident, while their mother talked about feeling “unsafe in the area”. The deceased’s father said the family is living under “immense financial strain” and had it not been for their financial constraint, they would have moved out of the area after the incident.
However, even as they live in the shadow of fear, one thing binds the family together — the will to speak up so that the guilty are brought to book.
The 10-year-old boy was allegedly sodomised by the three minor boys, one of whom has still not been apprehended, on September 18. But the incident was reported to the police by his mother only on September 24. One of the accused, a 12-year-old boy, was apprehended the same day, while another accused boy, aged 10, was apprehended on September 25.
The two were subsequently produced before a Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) but were released after their parents signed an ‘undertaking’. Under Section 12 of the JJ Act, any child under the age of 16 can be released (in both bailable and heinous offences).
The victim’s sister said she has stopped stepping out of their house due to the fear of the accused. “What if I’m their next target?” she said. “I have not been to tuition classes for the past few days. But soon I’ll have to start attending them again. Just the thought of me being out of the house makes us all shiver with fear,” she added.
Her mother said that while the family members are fearful, they will not be silenced. “We are afraid that these people might come back or send somebody to threaten us to keep us from speaking about what happened. But we won’t back down,” she added.
The deceased’s father said, “If we had the resources, we would’ve left after the incident.”
He also said that the family didn’t have enough money to perform the last rites of their son. Only after their neighbours contributed, were they able to arrange ₹20,000 for their son’s funeral.
“Our neighbours have helped us a lot. They told us to remain strong and not lose hope of justice for our son. But how can we expect justice when the accused are roaming around freely?” the deceased’s father added.
The deceased’s mother described him as being a naughty yet studious child. “He scored well in most subjects. His teachers had many expectations from him. My boy could have done so much in life…,” she said.